For the most part, I grew up here in San Diego. My parents were super young, with 3 little girls by the time my mom was 27. We were poor, but didn’t know any different, so I never realized it until later in life, and luckily, my sisters and I didn’t care either. There was so much love in our lives, it didn’t matter. We had a huge garden in the backyard with the biggest compost bin you’ve never seen and our brown eggs came from our own chickens that were running around amidst the corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes. My dad would go fishing on the beach and bring home dinner in the form of Corvina or Halibut. Because we had a lime tree, Dad made limeade instead of lemonade, and built us a little wooden playhouse with a window for us to sell it out of for 25 cents a cup. We made a killing, but to this day, I still can’t drink limeade. Those were truly the good old days.

Unfortunatley, not everyone’s story is so romantic. Until recently we never heard much about the issue of hunger in America. The economy has been hard on all of us this year, but it has been hardest on those who were already struggling, more than some of us will ever know. Charitable donations are down, and hunger in San Diego County is up. Those of us who love food and view it as a pleasure are so fortunate to be in that position. The least we can do is try to ensure the children of our community don’t – quite literally – go hungry.

The San Diego Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program was launched in 2007 to provide food to get chronically hungry elementary school students through the weekend. Every Friday, participating children receive a backpack with child friendly items such as peanut butter, pop-top canned goods, cereal, juice boxes, fruit cups, raisins, pudding cups, granola bars, shelf-stable milk and macaroni and cheese tucked inside.

The children receive free or reduced cost meals while school is in session, but do not have food available on the weekends or school holidays for themselves and their siblings. Food 4 Kids provides food directly to the children, without requiring their parents to receive a referral to a local food pantry, pick up food at the pantry or prepare it at home.

With this goal in mind, San Diego’s food bloggers and other members of the local community are coming together to raise funds for the San Diego Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. A little goes a long way – the program costs approximately $7.00 per week per child to fund, and a donation of $250.00 will fund a backpack for a child for the entire 36 week school year. Giving whatever you can afford will help to ensure this program continues to provide a much needed service.

As an added incentive, several food bloggers will be hosting prizes to be awarded in a drawing at our live food and backpack drive at our booth at the Little Italy Mercato on December 12, 2009. We will also be collecting non-perishable, child-friendly food items and backpacks. Come and meet your favorite food bloggers, drop off your donations and celebrate the Holidays at the Mercato!

My contibution to the raffle will be: a gift cetificate to U.S. Wellness Meats (a grassfed meat company out of Missouri), a handmade Svarowski Crystal necklace and earring set made by my fabulous mother, a gift certificate to Blind Lady Ale House, giftcards to both Leucadia Pizzeria and The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro, and hopefully a few more things that I’m still in the process of negotiating.

So, what’s the next step?

*Donate online at the firstgiving.com website.
*Spread the word to your friends, family and coworkers.
*Donate a plain, medium sized backpack (no logos please, and keep it gender neutral). If you’d like to fill the backpack, there is a great need for school supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and child friendly, nutritious snacks (such as granola bars,juice boxes, applesauce, etc.)
•Then bring all your backpacks to the Little Italy Mercato at Date and India Sts. on Dec. 12, along with any non-perishable food you’d like to donate to the Food Bank.

Thank you in advance, and Happy Holidays!

69 Responses to “Food 4 Kids Backpack Program”

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